Alabama Commit Holden Smith Will Take Gap Year, Enroll in 2022

University of Alabama commit Holden Smith has decided to take a gap year after high school and plans to enroll at Alabama in the fall of 2022. Smith originally committed to Alabama in the fall of 2019, and will finish high school in the spring of 2021.

“After much consideration and recommendation from my coaches and swim mentors, I have decided to reclassify to the class of 2022 and to take a gap year prior to going to college and competing at the NCAA level,” Smith told SwimSwam on Saturday. “This will allow me to catch up with other swimmers my age and to further develop myself both physically and mentally prior to college.  I want to thank my dad and other coaches and all of the many mentors who have advised me in this decision process. At this stage I am still unsure of where I will be training during my gap year but I have some amazing opportunities that I am really excited about!”

Smith’s dad, Kenneth Smith, tells SwimSwam that this plan has been in place since before the global coronavirus pandemic halted swimming for most of the world, but that the current conditions and uncertainty has made the decision feel more validated.

With an April birthday, Smith is on the younger end of his class.

Smith, who attends St. Xavier High School in Louisville and trains with the Race Pace Club, is primarily a butterflier, IMer, and sprint freestyler. Since his commitment, he’s already gone lifetime bests in all of his primary events.

Best Times:

Best Time when Committing Current Best Time
50 free 21.08 21.05
100 free 46.51 45.27
200 free 1:41.96 1:41.90
100 back 50.31 48.91
100 fly 49.11 47.84
200 fly 1:50.40 1:48.81
200 IM 1:50.35 1:47.62

Smith also split 21.59 in the 50 fly on St. Xavier’s winning 200 medley relay at the 2020 Kentucky High School State Championship meet. He won 4 state titles in 4 swims at that meet, including individual wins in the 200 IM and 100 fly, and as the leadoff leg of the winning 400 free relay (where his best time from above was swum). St. Xavier were the runaway state champions, scoring 592 points: more than double the runners-up from Highlands High School (193 points).

With Smith’s arrival at Alabama now 2 years away, it’s harder to project what the program will look like upon his arrival. The Alabama men finished 4th at last year’s SEC Championship meet, which was a 2-place improvement over the 2019 championships. That jump in performance came in the team’s first season under new head coach Coley Stickels.

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2 years ago

the people born in the summer and fall of 2003 in c/o 2021 r dead rn hahaha “younger end of the class” he’s like the middle somewhat near the younger side, but plenty of kids are younger,

swimmer from va
2 years ago

Interesting how so many people are hating on how one kid decides to live his life. Not sure how it affects anyone but him and his family. I wish him the best of luck and we should all support his decision.

Reply to  swimmer from va
2 years ago

“So many”? I see one negative comment.

GA Boy
2 years ago


Reply to  GA Boy
2 years ago

Yea! Let’s marginalize this kid!!

Even though we have no idea if next year we will see another quarantine/shutdown, possibly causing eligibility issues.

But who cares, he’s a softie for making a major decision that was probably no easy one at all.

And YOU! You’re the one who is in complete control! Go you!

Haters gonna hate
Reply to  GA Boy
2 years ago

I swim high school with Holden and he’s anything but soft. 8x state champ (3 individual and 5 relay). Trains alone for club which trying to do that during quarantine I have a total new respect for him. I can tell you a gap year wasn’t his idea (who in high school even knows what a gap year is). It was a suggestion of a swim mentor who is a family friend and an Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder. I also told me he got advise from a lot of coaches, some who were from other countries. All told him it was a great idea and he’d better in the long run doing it. It wasn’t until… Read more »

Reply to  GA Boy
2 years ago

Smart kid.

Cannon ball
2 years ago

There is a load of boys younger than him in his class and a good amount who were listed in the 2021 top boys ranking here a few weeks ago. To each their own, good luck.

2 years ago

Very smart move! Interesting to see how many HS swimmers follow this lead

2 years ago

Article says he’s primarily a “butterflier and sprint freestyler” — but he’s 21.0 in the 50 and 1:47 IM.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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